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Marking International Women’s Day: Spotlight on a Former Grantee from Vietnam

Published: 2019-03-08

This month’s post celebrates women scientists – and International Women’s Day – by focusing on two-time IFS grantee (2006 and 2011) Dr Phuong Thi Mai Nguyen of Vietnam’s Institute of Biotechnology.She was a participant at a recent workshop co-organized by IFS in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where IFS Director, Nighisty Ghezae, gave an opening address. Nighisty took the opportunity to ask Dr Phuong to consider the questions IFS is sending to former and present grantees in selected countries, as an element of this year’s strategy development. Dr Phuong noted that, “…a continuing challenge for early-career scientists is getting research funding”.

Dr Phuong Thi Mai NguyenFor more than a century, this time of year has included days in celebration of women. According to npr.org (March 8, 2019):

International Women's Day has a history dating to 1909, when National Woman's Day was observed on February 28 in the US, according to the United Nations. The Socialist Party of America designated the date of thousands of women marched for better working conditions and higher pay in New York City in 1908. But the holiday's international focus involves a German woman, Clara Zetkin. Zetkin, a Marxist theorist and women's rights activist, proposed the idea at an international socialist women's conference in Copenhagen in 1910, according to Deutsche Welle. The next year, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland marked International Women's Day on March 19 with ralliesWomen demanded the right to vote, right to work, vocational training and the end of discrimination in the workplace. In 1975, the United Nations began celebrating the International Women's Day, which had by then moved to March 8.

Dr. Phuong Thi Mai Nguyen is an Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Head of the Department of Biochemistry at the Institute of Biotechnology in Hanoi, Vietnam. Her research focuses on the field of natural products (isolation and mechanisms of action). Dr. Phuong's research has resulted in the functional food Synbiotic (containing prebiotic xylooligosaccharide) being developed from rice bran and probiotics Bacillus spores.

Over her career, Dr Phuong has published 82 articles in peer-reviewed journals. She considers learning how to design experiments and protocols to be particularly rewarding, and counts good research ideas, working conditions and collaborations as important factors contributing to her career development, not to mention the support she gets from her husband, who shares in family responsibilities.

She suggests that links can be strengthened among scientists, research institutions, grants-making organizations and funding sources through the availability of grants for workshops and collaboration among research groups inside and outside Vietnam. Dr Phuong sees science as playing an important role in providing fundamental evidence for practical applications and in developing new technologies and adapting existing ones to improve societal well-being.

Nighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

We have enjoyed this month's feature. Please keep an eye out for our next blog post. Thank you.

                                                                    Dr. Nighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

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